Blog Archives

Tales from Bandcamp: Shovel Knight Soundtrack by Jake Kaufman


a3801413220_10Ok, something completely different for y’all with this one.  As many of you know, I have love for video games just as big as my love for metal, with a special soft spot for the NES/SNES heyday of gaming glory.  I have an even softer spot for Mega Man.  Between the rock solid running, jumping, and shooting, beautiful art style and character design, and outstanding music, the only old school series that I herald higher than Mega Man is The Legend of Zelda.  So, ya, I love me some Mega Man.  Unfortunately, those bastards at Capcom teased me with a full on retro Mega Man revival with the kick ass Mega Man 9 and 10 they released some years ago and then pulled out from making more since they are bastards (the games sold wonderfully too, don’t know wtf they were thinking). 

Anyhoo, before I get ahead of myself, a couple of months ago a game called Shovel Knight was released on PC, 3DS, and WiiU.  It’s basically an homage to the glory days of retro-gaming with a lot of modern twists and pulls a lot of inspiration from the Mega Man series, especially in character design, graphical aesthetic, and above all the music.  Mega Man pretty much has some of the best tunes of any game out there with their chip tune power metal punch.  So, given the love Shovel Knight for the Mega Man series, to be a respectable homage to the Blue Bomber, the dev. team would have to find someone to craft one hell of a soundtrack.  They found Jake Kaufman, and let me tell you he went above and beyond the call of duty.  When a chip tune soundtrack is just as good out of game than in, you got yourself something special.  This soundtrack ranks up there with the all time greats including The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, and Super Mario Bros.  Tons of catchy melodies, driving rhythms, and cheesy 8-bit goodness.

If you happen to be one of the few other people out there that actually enjoy some good chip tune music, this is a must have record.  Even cooler, Jake did a second record with reinterpretations of the scores that is just as good.  So, go play Shovel Knight (which is riding high as my Game of the Year so far) and download the soundtrack and reinterpretation album.  Both are pay what you want, but tossing the artist the change between your cushions for their work instead of taking the record for free would be a cool thing to do.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

What I’ve Been Playing


video_game_meme_by_amarakaiba-d4sd371Haven’t written about any video games here in a while, so while I got a bit of free time on my hands figured I’d drop some game suggestions to some games I’ve played recently.  All of these are available on Steam and most likely also available on consoles as well.  Each, of course, is worth looking into if something about it catches your eye.  So, here are a bunch of random games that are pretty great and stuff.

 

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

This is the first game in the Call of Juarez series I’ve played and it is the most recent offering from, going by reviews, a very hit or miss series.  If anything, you don’t need to have played any of the other games in the series to enjoy this one.  And if you are a shooter fan and don’t enjoy this, you probably don’t like fun.

Basically, take the scoring system from Bulletstorm, the graphic style of Borderlands, and the narration of Bastion and you get Gunslinger.  Seriously, this is the most fun I’ve had with a FPS in a while (barring the next game on this list).  I love how as you run around the map the narration of an old bounty hunters tale gets told to you and some cool effects when he decides he told something wrong.

Bonus modes include a New Game + mode as well as a super-fun arcade mode where the cool combo chaining system from the campaign gets beefed out and you get to go for runs for high score and best times.  There’s also a shootout mode which focuses on the 1v1 shootout portions of the campaign, but I didn’t spend much time with it as I thought the shootouts were the weakest part of the game.  For the price tag you are getting a lot of quality and content to play with and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

I quite enjoyed Far Cry 3 regardless of the fact I really didn’t care for any of the other games in the series.  I think it is a bit over-rated, but then again, how many other games let you use a tiger to wipe out your enemies?  Well, Blood Dragon, a stand-alone DLC (Far Cry 3 is not required to play this one), does FC3 one up and lets you use a fucking dragon to kill your enemies.  And you rip your enemies hearts out to make bait to direct where dragons go and make murderous mayhem.  Sounds fun, right?  It is.  IMO, Blood Dragon outdoes it’s core game in every way.

And that’s just one small piece.  If you grew up in the ’80 with heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Van Damme, etc. you’d be pleased to know the over the top 80’s sci-fi neon cheese is capped off with THE Michael Beihn voicing all the quips and one-liners of the lead character, Rex Power Colt.  Everything about this game is a love letter to that bygone era (complete with a great Krull reference that made me squee with glee) and besides being a nostalgia trip, some fun gameplay is underneath.  Well worth your time and credits.

Shovel Knight

Speaking of nostalgia romps, Shovel Knight is also a love letter to 80/early 90s gaming.  Pretty much equal parts Mega Man, Zelda 2, Castlevania, and the NES version of Ducktales, Shovel Knight is a retro gamers dream.  The level designs are outstanding and devilishly difficult (not punishing though ;) ), the characters are charming, the retro graphics are stunning, and the music is some of the best chiptunes you can get this side of Mega Man.  You also beat shit out of everything with a shovel, if that’s not enough to sell you, maybe you were smacked with one as a child.

Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death

Best $1 game I’ve ever bought (though it was on sale, so it may be a couple bucks more now).  Basically, it’s Bro of War.  That is, God of War with some bro instead of Kratos and a tad smaller budget. Equally as fun though.  Lots of explosions, big combos, and cheesy dialogue, that’s about it.  Good fun.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

I’m a huuuuuge South Park fan.  I have been literally watching the show ever since the dude from the local rock and roll memorabilia shop pulled me to the side and made me watch a VHS tape with The Spirit of Christmas on it (wow, now I feel old).  I’ve seen every episode multiple times, can quote more than enough of them, have a good amount of merch, and etc.  all that other fanboy stuff.  If there’s been one area that South Park has ever let me down in, it’s been their video games.  The Stick of Truth changes that.  This game is everything a South Park fan ever wanted; a chance to play an episode of the show.  Seriously, if you didn’t have a controller in your hand, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

Presented as a turn-based RPG, you take on the role of the new kid in town and engage in a Lord of the Rings style quest filled with poop, tampons, aliens, magic, and Lemmywinks.  Every character from the show at least makes a cameo and since series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone worked very closely with the dev team, everything is undeniably South Park.  As with anything SP, this isn’t for kids.  There was one part where I shoved a kid up a man’s ass while exploring a man’s ass…

Seriously, if you like South Park and haven’t given this a go yet, you’re really missing out on some great SP cannon.  Euro buyers beware, because of of shitty laws, the console versions of the European versions of the games needed to be censored, get the PC version on Steam and you’ll be good to go (I got mine in Italy, and no censoring whatsoever).

Top Ten Video Games I Played In 2013


Hipster_22013 has been one hell of a great year for gamers.  New consoles (which I probably won’t buy for quite some time, long live the PC master race!), the continued rise of independent games, and a ton of AAA publishers releasing quality titles that broke ground in what can and should be done in big budget games.  Seriously, right now is such a great time to be a gamer.  Of all the great games I played this year, the following ten stood above the rest not only in quality, but also in creativity, refinement of their respective genres, or just were flat-out fun.  A couple of entries on this list were games released during 2012, but since I wasn’t able to get into them until 2013 I’m qualifying them for my list.  So, enjoy reading and let me know what were some of your favorite games that you played this year.

Read the rest of this entry

Game Review: Amnesia- A Machine For Pigs


2530420-wwgbwzTwo years ago a tiny indie game developed by a Swedish game development company called Frictional Games unwittingly created a game that took the gaming scene by storm.  That little game is called Amnesia: The Dark Descent and not to long after its release became hailed as one of, if not the, scariest games of all time.  Gamers long pining for a true return to survival horror gaming rejoiced with glee and Youtubers were quick to start a trend of creating videos of themselves being scared shitless by the game.  Even myself, who has extremely tough skin for all things horror, found beads of sweat forming on my brow as I explored Brennenburg Castle and was genuinely unsettled and nervous while playing.  To call the game anything other than a massive success would be a gross understatement.

Read the rest of this entry

Game Review: Civilization V: Brave New World


2481848-box_civ5bnwAfter spending nearly a century building a solid relationship with my Mayan neighbors it all pays off as they inform me that their spies have discovered that Napoleon and the French empire are planning on staging a surprise attack on my coastal city of Seoul.  This bit of information couldn’t have come at a better time as I have been guiding my people down the path of culture and science commissioning the building many world wonders and using my funds to search out great scientists.  My military is somewhat of a laughing-stock and as I have ignored the words of my military advisory telling me that the French wield an army that could wipe us off the planet.  Luckily I have been following the path of rationalism and those wonderful rationalists have discovered that through commerce and building trading posts I can also enhance my scientific resources, so let’s just say, the Korean empire has a few coins to rub together.  Which I do and build an instant modest army just strong enough to defend my land from a strong military push and then, since I have already denounced Napoleon a few times in the past for bullying my diplomatic buddies, declare war on the French.  And they fall into my trap.  Filled with the hubris that a massive army brings they go through with their set plan to attack Seoul seeing as that I have just a small defensive army.  What they didn’t know was that I had timed the production in my cities to release a bevy of high-powered units to eradicate them even before they hit my shores.  I wipe out more than a quarter of the French army on their first push taking minimal casualties due to my superior battle tactics and positioning and then push production to one more wave of military units composed of submarines and high-powered ballistas from my superior scientific advantage and then push back to the French shores accosting them of one of their major cultural cities and then south to liberate the French occupied city-state of Milan who will now provide me with and endless supply of cultural artifacts to keep my hard-working scientists happy as I move focus into winning the space race.  Ya, I must be playing a Civilization game.

Read the rest of this entry

Matt’s All Time Favorite Video Games: #5-#1


top 25 gamesAs you may have noticed, I happen to be a big time gamer (as with the rest of us here on Metal State).  I started out on an Atari 2600 back in the beginnings of the 1980s and haven’t looked back since.  I can not think of a time in my life when I haven’t been completely in love with my digital darlings.  Not to brag, but I will, I have played and finished hundreds of games, and not like 100 something games.  Roughly counting, I’d say that number is up around the 500 mark.  Yet somehow in my ~30 solid years of gaming I have not sat down and tried to make list of the best games I have ever played.  So given we are slightly obsessed with lists around these parts, I figured it’s time to do so (my cohorts will be joining in with their lists as well in the coming days).  Every single game on this list I consider a must play and highly suggest you check all of them out.

For my own set rules I made the cut-off anything released before 2013 as I still need to let the new releases sink in a bit more and some games get an entry as a series and some games in the series get their own number.  If a specific game in a series affected me more than the rest, that game gets top billing and a series gets the number if I feel that the whole series works together to make a cognitive whole. I hope you all enjoy this little list and find some games to either revisit or discover for the first time.  And as always, I’d love to hear your favorite games.  Even though I have played a lot of games, chances are I may have overlooked a hidden gem and point in its direction is always welcome.  Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!

Read the rest of this entry

Mik’s Top 25 All Time Favorite Video Games #10-6


StarCraft_II_-_Box_Art#10 Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

I want to build, build and build. Huge masses of troops. Organize them, line them up, build more and place them out. And then I want to admire my frightening army of mighty Void Rays, enormous Colossi and powerful Archons for a good, long while, before I scare the shit out of my enemies and crush them like tiny ants under my feet. That’s how I imagine it anyway. Even though it’s a pure strategy game, I’ve never been much of a strategist in this game. But I guess that adds a surprise element; I never know what to do or how it will end, I never had a plan A or a plan B, I just improvise. I also really enjoy playing the campaign or a tower defense map.

Read the rest of this entry

Mik’s Top 25 All Time Favorite Video Games #15-11


secretofmana-iphone#15  Secret of Mana

A nice mix between Final Fantasy and Zelda for Super Nintendo. Cozy colors, nice environments and some really odd features here and there. I like that you can switch freely between the cute little characters and there’s real time combat, which provides variation and freedom of choice. It’s not a hugely original game, or not the most difficult one, but it has this special charm and atmosphere that makes me go back to it over and over again.

.

Read the rest of this entry

Matt’s All Time Favorite Video Games: #15-#11


top 25 gamesAs you may have noticed, I happen to be a big time gamer (as with the rest of us here on Metal State).  I started out on an Atari 2600 back in the beginnings of the 1980s and haven’t looked back since.  I can not think of a time in my life when I haven’t been completely in love with my digital darlings.  Not to brag, but I will, I have played and finished hundreds of games, and not like 100 something games.  Roughly counting, I’d say that number is up around the 500 mark.  Yet somehow in my ~30 solid years of gaming I have not sat down and tried to make list of the best games I have ever played.  So given we are slightly obsessed with lists around these parts, I figured it’s time to do so (my cohorts will be joining in with their lists as well in the coming days).  Every single game on this list I consider a must play and highly suggest you check all of them out.

For my own set rules I made the cut-off anything released before 2013 as I still need to let the new releases sink in a bit more and some games get an entry as a series and some games in the series get their own number.  If a specific game in a series affected me more than the rest, that game gets top billing and a series gets the number if I feel that the whole series works together to make a cognitive whole. I hope you all enjoy this little list and find some games to either revisit or discover for the first time.  And as always, I’d love to hear your favorite games.  Even though I have played a lot of games, chances are I may have overlooked a hidden gem and point in its direction is always welcome.  Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!

Read the rest of this entry

Matt’s Top 25 All Time Favorite Video Games: 20-16


top 25 gamesAs you may have noticed, I happen to be a big time gamer (as with the rest of us here on Metal State).  I started out on an Atari 2600 back in the beginnings of the 1980s and haven’t looked back since.  I can not think of a time in my life when I haven’t been completely in love with my digital darlings.  Not to brag, but I will, I have played and finished hundreds of games, and not like 100 something games.  Roughly counting, I’d say that number is up around the 500 mark.  Yet somehow in my ~30 solid years of gaming I have not sat down and tried to make list of the best games I have ever played.  So given we are slightly obsessed with lists around these parts, I figured it’s time to do so (my cohorts will be joining in with their lists as well in the coming days).  Every single game on this list I consider a must play and highly suggest you check all of them out.

For my own set rules I made the cut-off anything released before 2013 as I still need to let the new releases sink in a bit more and some games get an entry as a series and some games in the series get their own number.  If a specific game in a series affected me more than the rest, that game gets top billing and a series gets the number if I feel that the whole series works together to make a cognitive whole. I hope you all enjoy this little list and find some games to either revisit or discover for the first time.  And as always, I’d love to hear your favorite games.  Even though I have played a lot of games, chances are I may have overlooked a hidden gem and point in its direction is always welcome.  Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!

Read the rest of this entry